Mayor Offers Apology to Residents of Teak Drive

By Laurie Bernstein - bio | email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The streets of Teak Drive are now dry, but the blame game is just getting started.

As crews worked to fill up a massive sinkhole in Robert Pettit's yard, he and other residents are preparing for a possible fight.

"We've already had surveys for the floodplain, and we have contacted the insurance companies. They've already done three or four houses, because we've had this problem now, so we may have it again in the future," said Pettit.

WTVM has learned from residents who live around the Charter Oaks Watershed that they alerted the city's Public Services Department back in January about the clogged pipe, but nothing was done.

"They have known about this problem, and they have not adressed it," said Pettit.

Mayor Jim Wetherington says he didn't know about the problem until this past Monday, but once he found out, he ordered Public Services to start pumping water at that point.

"They have a right to be frustrated. I promise you we're going to take a close look at it and I'm not ready to abandon these people just yet," said Wetherington.

Friday afternoon, Wetherington, along with the area's city councilor Gary Allen, went out to Teak Drive and toured residents homes, seeing the damage first hand. They also toured the spillway, where a new ditch has been dug out, diverting water away from the neighborhood.

City engineers say the problem is being addressed and the watershed should be able to handle any additional rain that comes.

The mayor, however, still offered his apologies to homeowners affected.

"I'm sorry this has happened. We're going to make restitution where we can. I think we share some liability, because those are our lakes," said Wetherington.

The mayor now says he will make a recommendation to council to pay for these homeowners' expenses. Ultimately, it is up to the city council to make the final decision.